To the editor:
Have you heard that we have a LERTA here in Phoenixville? A LERTA is a local economic revitalization tax assistance program. It is supposedly developed to help promote the rehabilitation of existing commercial buildings which are in need of repair. The stated goal is to increase the commercial tax base of the borough.
But now the Borough is asking to expand the LERTA to some new construction. And that is a very questionable deal in my mind.
Do we really need to incentivize developers with taxpayer subsidies? Donít developers already have incentive in the millions of dollars of profit they will make on a deal? After all, somebody is going to pay the taxes, this just means there will be more of a burden on existing residential taxpayers, because letís be very clear, if you or I put an addition on our house, we will absolutely be expected to pay increased taxes on that.
I seriously question whether this is the correct path for us to be considering, and Iím not the only one. Numerous articles I found stated that LERTA is a questionable method with unproven success. Developers already have incentive to build, that is why they go into business to develop real estate. It is a very profitable business.
Phoenixville is not an area so overcome by urban blight that we need to offer millions in taxpayer dollars to developers who stand to make many more millions on projects. Taxpayers need to ask questions, and the problem is a good deal of the time we donít even know what is going on.
I hope more people will take the time to contact their council members and school board directors and ask questions. Iíve been doing some research since I heard about this at Tuesdayís council meeting and I was at the school board finance committee meeting last week when it was discussed. But if no one else asks questions, taxpayers will be giving up millions in tax revenue, and for what? Future taxes they would likely have gotten anyway?
It is time for us to stop giving our taxes away in subsidies to profitable private companies.